MadeForMums rating: 4/5 stars
In a nutshell: It’s the slightly cooler, hip younger sister of the Tate Britain and home to contemporary and modern art exhibitions.
A huge space that will get you asking, “But is it really art?” quite a lot, and – far from being one of those stuffy, quiet galleries where little ones will get in trouble for being boisterous – it’s a great introduction to the arts scene if you want to start taking your kids along to see if it’s their kind of thing.
Best for: 9-12 years / 12+ years
OK for: Babies / Toddlers & Preschool / 5-8 years
Cost: Free. Special exhibitions cost extra (around £16-18). Tate members go free for all exhibitions.
The best bits: For fans of contemporary art, Tate Modern offers one of the most entertaining collections in Europe. The stuff you’ll see here can be bold and colourful and even little ones will have an opinion on what they think about certain exhibits.
Know nothing about modern art? We don’t really think it matters. there such a lot of stuff to see you’re bound to find something that at least gets you talking even if you don’t ‘get’ it one little bit.
You’ll be amazed and entertained at what a 4-year-old child can see in a piece of art that you might not have even thought about! All ages can get something from what’s on display which is what’s so great about the place.
As well as the art the building’s pretty cool too – one of the biggest highlights is the amazing view of London from the balcony by the third floor gift shop.
There are only 4 floors, each one separated into several sections. It’s well laid out and the building is hugely spacious, so don’t worry about pushing a buggy around or your children running riot through tiny corridors.It’s not the kind of gallery where you’ll get disapproving glances if the kids are a bit excitable so no need to fret about that either.
Great news if you’re taking a baby is that Tate Modern has top family facilities including accessible toilets, a baby care room and nappy-changing facilities.
There are 4 lifts, which is useful for families with buggies or wheelchairs. Plus – if you don’t feel like wandering around with a buggy, they can be left in the cloakroom, subject to space availability.
Water fountains are available on Levels 0, 2, 3 and 4 as well as seating for small weary feet and even wearier parents in all galleries.
MFM top tips: Because of its location – on the South Bank – a visit here can be part of a very full day doing lots of other stuff.
There’s a green area out the front where you can sit and have a picnic if the weather’s good – there’s usually an ice-cream van nearby in summer – and even in winter if you wrap up warm it can be lovely out there.
Plus – you’ll often find stalls and entertainers outside, and little pleasures like watching boats go past and chasing seagulls are all part of the experience if you’ve got really small ones with you.
Optional extras: We don’t think you’ll need any add-ons but in case you’re interested, you can take a a free guided walking tour through the gallery, or pay a little extra (which is quite reasonable) for the special exhibitions or enjoy a movie screening or artist talk.
Kids can use a family multimedia guide (which the website says once won a BAFTA) during the visit or enjoy weekend/school holiday visits to the Families Welcome Room and the Open Studio for arts and crafts events, as well as enjoy the Family Gallery.
What to watch out for: Getting round the building can be hard work, so we recommend starting at the top floor (by taking the lift), to avoid climbing lots of stairs.
This will be especially beneficial if your child is really young and isn’t steady on their feet yet. It’ll also stop older children getting tired and give them more chance to enjoy the museum.
Tate Modern has not 1, not 2, but 3 shops inside. Gulp. The main gift shop is on Level 0 and this is the one you want IF you plan on purchasing something for the kids. The other shops (on Levels 1 and 3) are much more niche. They’re all as expensive as you would expect.
There’s not a lot for very young children to do here mid-week in term time. We recommend checking out everything South Bank has to offer in addition to your Tate visit and taking along a colouring book or notepad with crayons so your little one can get inspired and create their own mini masterpiece.
We’re well aware that modern art can be a bit confusing and might not be everyone’s cup of tea so you might want to do a bit of research about what’s on there before you go as things change all the time.
If you’re thinking of going to any of the special displays, make sure you look them up on the website first as taking the whole family to any of these can really add up.
That said we still reckon the building itself and the location mean this is one of the best days out you can have with the kids.
Don’t just take it from us: We scoured TripAdvisor to see what other parents were saying about the gallery. One said:
“The museum is a great place to visit especially on a rainy day and when you are at your wit’s end figuring out what to do to expel your toddler’s energy.
It’s a very family friendly place with loads of space for a child to run around in. The cafe is usually very busy but it seemed to accommodate the little ones. It’s ok if you can’t get a seat in the cafe as there are cafes near by behind the museum.”
Another one, with older children, said:
“Our family had a GREAT time. Some art we loved, some we did not understand, some made us laugh.”
Getting there: Jubilee line to Southwark (Tube); Blackfriars or London Bridge (overground train)